NEWS & OPINION: Iraq’s illusive political solution

Federalism, not partition

Overall, Shiites see their future based on two fundamental “rights”: Power must be exercised by the political majority through control of governmental institutions, and institutional sectarian discrimination must be eliminated. Kurds see their future bound to their “rights” of linguistic, cultural, financial and resource control within Kurdistan. Sunni Arabs are driven by resistance to their loss of power, as well as fear of revenge for past wrongs and the potential for reverse discrimination.

The current political framework is based on a pluralistic democratic vision that, while admirable, is entirely unsuited to resolving this three-way divide. It ignores underlying issues and expects that a consensus will emerge simply by enacting a liberal constitutional legal order.

Pluralistic democracy will not take root unless the national political compact recognizes and accommodates the fears and aspirations of Iraq’s communities. Resolution can be achieved only through a system that incorporates regional federalism, with clear, mutually acceptable distributions of power between the regions and the central government. Such a system is in the interest of all Iraqis and is necessary if Iraq is to avoid partition or further civil strife. [complete article]

Iraq faces ‘slide back to conflict’ without rapid reconstruction

Iraq’s government must rapidly raise its game to cement the country’s fragile new peace, the United States ambassador in Baghdad has declared.

Iraq was “immeasurably better” than a year ago, Ryan Crocker told The Times, but Nouri al-Maliki’s administration had to provide jobs and services to undercut the militias and prevent a slide back to conflict. “Failure to consolidate security gains with progress in other areas would be highly dangerous.”

In a wide-ranging interview Mr Crocker also urged Britain to maintain a force near Basra, saying it still had an important role advising Iraqi commanders, supporting reconstruction efforts, and guarding American supply routes. [complete article]

Iraq may need military help for years, officials say

Senior U.S. military officials projected yesterday that the Iraqi army and police will grow to an estimated 580,000 members by the end of the year but that shortages of key personnel, equipment, weaponry and logistical capabilities mean that Iraq’s security forces will probably require U.S. military support for as long as a decade.

“The truth is that they simply cannot fix, supply, arm or fuel themselves completely enough at this point,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, head of the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq.

The Iraqi government has been increasing its forces “much more aggressively” in response to the high violence levels witnessed in 2006 and early 2007, Dubik said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. [complete article]

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